These are two lines from the song I will not let you down by Don McGlashan. This song has been going through my head all day, just little snippets…
You must try to believe
That I will be coming through
I have carried my cross at each step
Upon my neck for you
There’s a tear in my eye
And an ocean of swallowed pride
Ties that comfort
Ties that bind
And I will not let you down
I will not let you down
That’s for sure
I will not let you down
I will not let you down
Today, these snippets mean a great deal to me. I’ve just finished one of the worst weekends I’ve had regarding self-injury since before the ex-husband left. I’ve done many things which I’m not proud of, or can even fathom. I’m still shaking and trying to work through what happened. But the lines “Ties that comfort, Ties that bind” got me thinking… wondering about how much I hold onto this self-injury, destructiveness and my mental health diagnoses.
The weekend of self-destruction started on Friday when I was triggered by a couple of incidences which lead to me to repeat the old patterns of needing to please people – in particular the ex-husband. It didn’t matter that he is no longer present in my life, it was all about finding ways to repeat old behaviours and coping mechanisms. But why did I do this? The threat of him appearing in my life was minimal to non-existent. I no longer want him in my life, yet he fills my flashbacks. These flashbacks and the stress caused by the memories of him, have lead to me not being able to function at work, meant I’ve had to take an increasing amounts of medication and resulted in me losing huge chunks of time. But I wonder how much of this I have brought on myself? There is a certain comfort in being able to explain away my behaviour to his influence and abuse… What if I’m using all of this as a convenient excuse to get away with inappropriate behaviours?
I read a comment recently from a fellow survivor, they said that they can’t stand those who aren’t actively working on their issues… Those that use the past as an excuse, rather than a cause for healing. This sort of argument has always worried me – whose to say that I am doing enough in this healing journey? What if I am wallowing in self-pity and excuses? Whose yardstick am I being measured against? What does the yardstick even look like? It’s the sort of argument that I’ve heard several times, but it does my head in. I’ve been judged all my life, now I’m healing and I’m still being judged? When does the judging end?
Another comment that hit close to the bone, was a good friend saying to me that I wasn’t sounding like the survivor he knew. He’s right (you usually are Paul), I wasn’t a survivor over the weekend… I was a battered victim… like an addict looking for their next fix of self-harm. All adult knowledge of consequences went out the window. At times I could hold it together, but these were short lived. The nights were especially difficult… looking for the ex-husband in each shadow… looking for ways to hurt myself and undermine all the work that I had been doing. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt by any one within the system to cause harm, it was me coping in the only way I knew… But what if the only way I knew was perpetuating that tie that binds me to this place of being a victim? I know the role of being a victim… there’s a comfort in fulfilling a role I know well… so how tied am I to it? How much of my energy is spent in ensuring I stay there? I’d like to say that it’s not a great deal, but I just don’t know.
I know that I’m bound to the past in many ways… flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms indicate that. My healing is aimed at breaking these binds. This weekend, I failed. I failed myself, the dissociative system and the people around me who count on me to be a survivor. My trust in those around me and myself has been seriously shaken. I’ve come out of this weekend distrustful and scared of people again. I hate that this has happened. I hate that I’ve put a great dent in my healing. I’ve come out questioning everything about my motivations and what I am doing… Is this healing really working? Why am I doing this?
I know these are all questions that I need to ask Liz… but I fear she will give me an answer that is meant to soothe, rather than be truthful. I fear that I have become comfortable in the role of a victim and that those ties are keeping me in this place. I worry that being a victim has become my identity and way of life… I know that my life is so restricted by the different triggers that I sometimes can’t see past it. I know that some of the things Liz suggests to change in my life, I can’t do… or I explain that I’ve already tried them and failed. I’m not very good at giving things a second go, if I fail once, then I’ve often failed forever… especially when it comes to my healing work. I cut myself very little slack in that area… is that another sign that I’m tied to being a victim? I just don’t know anymore…